F1 Indian Grand Prix - Post-race press conference transcript
DRIVERS 1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing) 2 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari) 3 – Mark WEBBER (Red Bull Racing)
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by Martin Brundle)
Sebastian, did you help design this race track or something? You seem so at home here, as a driver and with your car. Sebastian VETTEL: I think it’s been an incredible two years for us, both times to come here and win the race, get the pole on Saturday and win the race on Sunday is fantastic. There’s always a very nice trophy so I’m very, very happy to pick up another nice one this year, so a very special grand prix. I don’t know what is it about this circuit but I really like the flow of it. Sector One is a bit slow with long straights but Sector Two and Three are really nice and I think we all enjoy it. Big thanks to the team, as I said on the radio, every single one is pushing very hard and I think there’s not one thing that stands out and makes the difference: not today’ not yesterday; not this weekend. I think it’s all of us working hand in hand together. If we’re here on the track or back in Milton Keynes, everyone is pushing hard and I think that’s what makes the difference. I’m very, very happy, I’m glad to be part of that and just enjoying the moment.
You’ve led every race, every lap for three consecutive races now. The last man to do that was the great Ayrton Senna in 1989, you’re in great company and you’re clearly on great form. SV: Don’t say things like that! It’s very, very special. I think we all will remember Ayrton forever, not just because he was successful and he had these kinds of numbers speaking for him but he was a great person. So very, very happy.
Fernando, do you ever, ever give up? You’re relentless. Fernando ALONSO. No, obviously, it’s not easy at the moment to fight with Red Bull but we will never give up. I think we are happy today, we have to congratulate them, they were fantastic this weekend so well done Red Bull, well done Sebastian – but yeah, we want to be happy and we want to enjoy Brazil, not only here so I’m sure we will do it.
Bittersweet for you? You split the Red Bulls but you still lost points in the World Championship. FA: Yeah, we lost points but I think this was more or less the plan this weekend: we were not fast enough to compete against them, so we lost the minimum points, which is finishing second, so a s I said, better races will come.
How fast was your car in a straight line. Take us down to Turn Four at the start, it was incredible. FA: Yeah, we were quite fast in a straight line but we are still missing a little bit of grip in the corners that hopefully will come in the next races. Today we have to thank the team for this fantastic straight-line speed that give us some good overtaking manoeuvres and some good action.
Mark, you had to work hard to be up on this podium today. Mark WEBBER: Yes. First of all thanks to the crowd, they are fantastic today. I enjoyed the fight today; it was a difficult race, very difficult for me to get into a rhythm, we had a few issues we needed to manage on the car but fair play to the other guys it was a good, tough grand prix. Lewis and Fernando were very strong on the hard tyre and with our KERS it was very difficult. I was happy with how I drove and we’ll come back for Abu Dhabi.
So when he breezed past you down the straight, you were missing your KERS at that time and just helpless? There’s nothing you could do? MW: Yes, that right. It was very difficult to defend there because you need the KERS to get you on that type of corner.
Sebastian, we see some amazing names up here, champions including Fernando alongside you and you’re on there twice. Surely you must feel now that you’ve got one hand on that World Championship trophy for 2012. SV: The other one is probably Fernando and there are other ones as well. So I think if we speak about the World Championship, obviously this was another good step for us but still a long way to go and we have seen this year how quickly things can change. As I said earlier, it feels fantastic to be up here and have a race like that where everything works the way you want it to. Yeah, very, very proud, very, very happy and enjoying it. That was today. Now we are focusing on Abu Dhabi next week. There’s a lot more to come and we’ll try to take things step by step.
Sebastian well done, your fourth win in succession, which is amazing. And your thoughts on that. SV: As you said, it’s pretty amazing obviously. It’s very hard to target those kind of things. I think they either happen or they don’t happen. I think the secret, if there is any, is that we didn’t approach the first of those four races thinking we can win four. We focussed on the first one, then on the second one, then on the third one, then on the fourth one. So, really step by step. I think, as I said on the radio and earlier, I think the whole team is working together fantastically well. I don’t think there is one thing that stands out to make a difference. We can see that in every kind of area. We don’t have any problems on Friday, we get through our programme, we get more or less the answers we want, we are able to improve the car from Friday to Saturday with support here on the track but also in the factory. Guys helping us to improve the car. We get the most out of it in qualifying. We had a fantastic race today. Great pitstops as well, obviously those things are easy to forget and easy to remember when they go wrong but I think the pitstops were fantastic – at least the one I had. It takes a lot of discipline, focus in the right moment, to be there, to be sharp and I think we were in the moment. Not thinking about yesterday or last week or last race and not thinking about the end of the race or next week. So, really tried to focus on the moment, which I think is the best thing we can do to maximise the result today. As I said, I’m very happy, I enjoyed the race a lot. I think it was crucial to open a gap in the first stint to break the DRS early to Mark, who had a very good start I think, and it was quite close in Turn One. But I was able to brake a little bit late and have quite a good exit out of Turn Three, which was important for the remainder of the race, and then was able to open a gap, not just to Mark but also to the cars behind and obviously control the race from there. I think we were very competitive on the soft tyres; on the hard tyres I think McLarens and Ferrari were pretty competitive. Unfortunately Mark lost KERS but as I said, I think we were probably not as competitive on the primes as on the soft tyres but all in all a fantastic race. And again a fantastic trophy this year in India. Just very, very happy.
A pretty amazing 33 laps on used soft tyres. SV: To be honest it’s difficult to know when you start the race how long you can go – but I think we felt after a couple of laps that the tyres were holding up reasonably well and then when you cross around 15/16 to 20 laps with still something in the tyres left, you obviously know it goes more to the direction of one stop. I think it was anyway always going to be one or two stops. On Friday the tyres seemed to last fairly well and again they did today. So yeah, it’s not always happening like that, sometimes we have a surprise on Sunday, so I think we prepared as much as we could but by that stage it was obviously clear to not split the 27 remaining laps in two bits: so to go with the prime stint and do the same as everyone else did. I think we all came the pits within five to ten laps.
Were you actually being pushed in by Mark at the end there, back into the pits? Had you ran out of fuel? SV: Ah yes! I switched off the car. I was told to park the car under the podium but I didn’t know how far away it was. I didn’t remember that from last year. I think it’s the only big mistake that happened to us this weekend. But it didn’t really matter and Mark gave me a push. He’s quite popular for those sort of things. I think he gave Fernando a lift last year in Nürburgring when he had to stop on track. Yeah, gave me a little bit of a push to make it to Park Ferme to stop the car. Thank You.
Fernando, as Martin was saying on the podium, we had a fairly good illustration of how good your DRS is on the straight. Two extraordinary overtaking manoeuvres, particularly at the start for example with the McLarens and then later with Mark. FA: The first lap we cannot use DRS anyway, it was just the slipstream and I was a nice run out of Turn Three and I could overtake both the McLarens. They were fighting but forgot I was there in Turn Four so they keep the fight by their own selves. We nearly touch each other but I was lucky to exit Turn Four without any damage and overtake one of them. Jenson was defending into Turn Six quite a lot so unfortunately we could overtake only one at the start. One after a few laps because I think we had a little bit more pace than Jenson and then with Mark it was a combination of KERS and DRS because I think Mark was running without KERS so that make a huge difference in terms of top speed and the overtaking was relatively easy.
You must be pretty encouraged by this second place today. To be so close to Sebastian today. FA: Yes, I think it’s good news for us, seeing that we could fight Red Bull in the race. More or less we knew this. In qualifying we are not close enough to fight for pole position but in the race normally things improve for us. Today was another example but it was perfect for the strategy from the team: very good start, very good top speed and tyre management. Everything set up for the race, everything was fine and I push 120 per cent every lap so the combination was this second place.
So when you look at Abu Dhabi, what are your hopes there? FA: I think we need to bring some new parts to Abu Dhabi, hopefully improve a little bit more then competitiveness of the car, try to be a little bit closer to Red Bulls on Saturday and hopefully on Sunday as well. Obviously three races remaining; championship is the main target so we need to recover some points and will be nice to finish in front of Sebastian in Abu Dhabi, whatever the position it is. And if we can win the race it will be even better – but for that we need to make a step forward. At the moment we are not able to win.
Mark, a good start off the line. MW: It was good – just a shame it wasn’t a long Barcelona or Malaysia: it would have been a bit nicer but I had the run, obviously, but then the radius into Turn One on the inside… I mean we were together but it’s very, very tricky down in there and also I saw Fernando last year obviously if you brake on the limit it’s very easy to go a bit too far. So, Seb come across, which is fair enough and then I was worried about the other guys obviously having a very good exit on not just me but both of us. Turn Three: was very important to get to there in good shape. So, the start was good, exit at Turn Three wasn’t too bad. Obviously it’s tricky for all of use to get off there on the first lap. I got off there not too bad, got a little bit of a tow off Seb and then settled into the race from there.
And then that first pitstop – you must have been longing to make that first pitstop and knowing you couldn’t – because you were losing time obviously just before the end of the stint. MW: No, I was pretty happy with where the stop is. It’s nice to go a little bit longer. We had to react to Fernando. We would have gone even longer. Obviously it wasn’t due to tyres, it was due to KERS that I started to lose the rhythm and the tempo: obviously when the KERS is coming on and off, we need to also screw around with the brake balance and lots of other things. The guys have got a huge amount of plate-spinning to try to feed that into the cockpit for me. The last thing you want in a one-stop strategy race is starting to have front locking. Because we need to do long, long stints. So obviously this is a pain in the arse and we had to manage it as best we can. The stop was really because of when Fernando pitted, so we had to react to that. Stop was alright and then the prime was a little bit more high-maintenance; a little bit trickier actually, I think for both Seb and I. I managed to break the DRS, managed to get away from Fernando. I then got myself together. KERS was there or there abouts, on and off, and then I caught… I mean the blue flags didn’t do nothing for the backmarkers, that’s the problem: the guys don’t know how much time they kill us in the fast corners. So, when you catch some of those guys in those corners, you lose a second and a half in one sector, or a second. Which happened twice. But, that’s the way it was. And those guys can’t do that when you’ve got guys… when you’re racing with Fernando, the three of us on the limit, Fernando’s going to be all over that stuff. So, it was back on again, and then when I had no KERS, I mean it’s not really a battle on the back straight. I went across to the inside but Fernando come past. They’ve got a very good top gear as well, big top speed. That was it. Then I pushed like… as strong as possible to get to the end of the race. So third, I’m pretty happy with how I drove, I think I drove a pretty good race but in the end it wasn’t enough. We could have got more points today for sure. Well done to Seb on the win.
How much pressure from Lewis at the end? MW: Certainly needed to keep the focus and y’know, it’s so demoralising, that straight with no KERS. I think I was very lucky that Lewis made a mistake in Turn Three, I think on lap 57. I saw it in the mirrors, it was either 57 or 58. And that was important because I think he was starting to get a bit of momentum and I was very keen to keep him off the DRS as long as possible because once he got that I was toast. I think another two laps and he would have got me.
When did you have the problem with KERS? When did you lose it first? MW: Around about lap 19, 20. Maybe a bit earlier. It was on and off and then completely off and then off. It was a moving target really.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Vinayak Pande - Hindustan Times) Fernando, yesterday you were quoted as saying that you were 100 percent certain that you will be this year's World Champion. Do you still feel that way after this race? FA: Of course. We know that there were still 100 points yesterday and now 75 points (available). We are 13 behind. We know that we need to improve. We are not fast enough, especially on Saturdays, as I said, but hopefully we can improve the situation in Abu Dhabi or in USA. The races are long, and as we saw today with Mark, a KERS problem can happen to anyone, it can happen to Seb, it can happen to me and it can happen to all of us. Still many points on the table and I'm still very optimistic.
Q: (Vinayak Pande - Hindustan Times) Of the three races that are left, is there any one in particular, do you think, that will favour Ferrari? FA: I think Brazil will be quite good for us and hopefully it's a happy Grand Prix.
Q: (Sudhir Chandran - Chequered Flag) Now that you have been a part of two editions of the Indian Grand Prix, is there one unique feature about this track, destination or venue, which you find distinctly different from the others that you race at around the world, fans included? SV: I think every Grand Prix is special and has something special about it. Obviously it's the second time that we've run here. So far, all the quotes from the drivers regarding this circuit have been very positive. It's a lot of fun for us. It's not so easy to manage the tyres in one lap for qualifying, but also over the race (distance) so it's a big challenge and I think that's what we like. There are some corners, like turn 15, where you always think that something went wrong and you will try and do it better next time. You get challenged to the limit which is obviously what we like. We don't want to make mistakes but obviously we like those sort of places.
On top of that, I think it's an impressive country. Obviously last year I had a bit of time to have a look, and I think coming back is quite a big difference. Obviously, in here (the paddock) it's something that we all know, the Formula One paddock but having a look at Delhi or a little bit the life outside the circuit is very different to other places. I think there's a couple of stations or a couple of stops on the calendar that are very impressive in that regard. India has a lot to offer. There are a lot of people here: 1.3 billion or more so quite incredible and just to see that, to see how people live here, to see the culture, I think is very very different.
In life, I think a lot is always about expectations and in Europe expectations are very very high. Money plays a big role whereas here, I think, expectations are fairly low. Money is not that important. It doesn't matter how old you are. I think it's more important to have a healthy, happy life, to enjoy your life with your family, with your kids. Sometimes to compare the circumstances you live in, here in India compared to Europe - obviously I grew up in Germany - it's black and white, it's very different but it's nice to see that the people are so happy, warm-hearted. I think it would definitely be nice to spend a little bit more time to travel around and get more of an idea. As I said, in here, everything is more or less the same. It will be the same next week when we go to Abu Dhabi, even though it's a completely different place. As a country, this place has a lot to offer.
MW: Good question and a good answer.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Moto und Sport) Sebastian, in the latter part of the race, the front end of your floor seemed to touch the ground. You could see sparks coming off it. Did it cost you time; it seemed to have repaired itself later on? SV: I noticed the problem. I think it was when I got the DRS of a backmarker, from Timo (Glock) actually, pretty close to the end of the race and obviously when you open DRS, you go much quicker down the straight and I saw some sparks. I think you've seen a couple of cars throwing out some sparks out of the back of the car this weekend. I don't think it was really a problem. I didn't feel anything regarding the balance (of the car). All the other laps it was no problem, but I saw it in the mirror, I saw Timo backing off and I think he was a bit afraid at the time. We obviously need to analyse what was the problem, but it didn't cost us anything or slow us down.
Q: (Shridhar Potdar - Sakal Media House) Sebastian, every time you make a point about the team members in the factory and those working behind the scenes. You seem to have a special bond with your pit crew which plays an important role in any driver's success, whether he is a World Champion contender or not. Can you share what kind of relationship you have with your pit crew members and the main members of the team? SV: I think it's the same for Mark and myself. Obviously we work very closely with the guys. I think we have 20 races a year, a couple of pre-season tests and obviously we spend a lot of time in the factory, we spend time here at the track, working with the members of the team, every single one: mechanics, engineers, all sorts of staff. Obviously you know who you're talking to. If you're new to the environment it takes a bit of time to get to know everyone and to get to know how everyone ticks. I think the special thing at the moment and the special thing at the beginning of the year at any stage is the atmosphere in the garage is fantastic, the guys are really incredible. I don't know how they do it, they hardly sleep at night, only a couple of hours. They try to prepare the car as best as they can in order to give Mark and myself the best chance to have a solid race. Back in the factory, the people are pushing, obviously trying to improve the car. It's obviously difficult to say thank you to each and every one because quite a lot of people work behind the scenes in our team, but everyone plays their role, it's not a one man show. I think the result today or the result last week or whenever, the results in the last two years are not just thanks to me or thanks to Adrian (Newey), or thanks to any particular person in the team, I think it's thanks to all of us. Everyone is pushing hard, there are lots of bright guys with good ideas. Obviously some guys are really important but all in all, that's the spirit we share and it's just nice to be a big part of it.
Q: (L.P. Shahi – The Telegraph India) Sebastian, you say there is no one element that makes the difference. Are you under-estimating your own part in this? SV: No, that's the way I see it. Obviously on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday afternoon, whenever, in qualifying, in the race, when I'm out in the circuit in the car, then I know that there is a lot depending on me. If I get it wrong there's no result, if I get it right it might be a good result. But I think there's far more work behind that than just one lap in the race, or one lap in qualifying, one result in a year, in the season. That's why I'm convinced of what I said and I think everyone is pushing very hard. Obviously it's easier to measure if I make a mistake, I lose half a second in the last corner, it's easy to say that instead of 1m 30.0s, I could have done 1m 29.5s but that's why it's difficult to measure the effort everyone brings in. The guys in the garage are working hard, preparing the car, preparing the pit stop etc. It's obviously difficult to measure if you're talking about performance or lap time, but then it becomes very easy to measure if you don't finish the race, compared to a race where you do finish and you collect a lot of points. Sometimes it's down to one guy who is obviously committed and does the right thing at the right moment, preventing a problem or sometimes his head is not right, he's not fully committed then small mistakes add up to maybe a big mistake costing a certain result on a Sunday. I think that's where it's fair to say that we win together and we lose together.
Q: (Luigi Perna - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, looking at the performance that you had during the race, and the result that you had at the end, second place, may we say that this was the best race of your season, or the best performance in the car? FA: I think it's difficult to say, I don't know, it's difficult to chose. I'm really proud and happy of the Valencia performance, or Malaysia or some other races where we fight all the race through, Monza etc, but definitely this one was one of the best, I think, pushing from lap one to the last lap, not risking or taking more risks that in previous races with overtakings etc, so quite happy .
Q: (Dan Knutson - Honorary) Seb, there's been all the stories on the internet about you and Ferrari. Could you set the record straight please: is there any arrangement, agreement, talk between you and your people and Ferrari? SV: This could be quite funny now, what I say... No, there's nothing, nothing to tell you, nothing I've signed. Nothing has changed. It's quite amusing. I don't know where it came from but... I don't read much, so it's quite a surprise when you get to the circuit and get all these questions. Nothing to report. As I said, I can't be happier at the moment, I'm very happy with...
Actually, there's one thing I would like to say about this. As I said, there's no reason to write anything or report anything but obviously, as I said earlier, you don't know every single one in the team, and it's hard to speak to every single one, so if there's - sorry to say - some bullshit in the press, obviously there might be some concerns back in the factory, but I'm 100 percent behind them as I feel they're 100 percent behind me and therefore I want to get this straight: there's nothing to report and I'm very happy at Red Bull Racing.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Sebastian, during the last ten laps when Fernando passed Mark, did you fear that Fernando would come back after you and may be successful? SV: You never feel too certain. Obviously it's important, as I said earlier, I tried to open a gap to - you know - later on, and no matter what happened, to have a little bit of a cushion, to have time to react to be able to control the race in the end. Obviously I was told that Fernando got into P2, Mark had the problem, so I think, as Mark said, obviously with a completely smooth race he could stay ahead. As we also said, on the hard tyres, McLaren and Ferrari were quite competitive. I think I had the same gap when he started to be second as I had in the end, so I was able to keep the gap and control the race.
Q: (Frank Schneider – Bild Zeitung) Question to Fernando and to Seb: Seb, first, is there anything you want from Fernando at the moment; and Fernando is there anything you want to have from Seb at the moment? SV: Could I...? Ah, no you have a cap. I was just about to say, his cap, but he hasn't... Where did you get that from? FA: I can give it to you but... I didn't understand the... SV: I think we are both happy with what we have.
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